Fire and Water - Diptych for solo piano
by Christopher Willis
1)  Water - slow         2)  Fire - fast

Neither movement of my composition for the "Fire and Water" exhibition is written out conventionally.  Instead, fragments of music are arranged on the page to be played by the performer in an improvised sequence. In the centre of the page is a tiny refrain which is played in between all of the other fragments. Some of the fragments are very short, such as single notes or chords, while one or two run for several lines of music.  The fragments within one movement are all preoccupied with certain groups of rhythms, gestures or pitches, and some fragments are variant forms of others.
One passage in each movement is reserved to be played only once, to finish. "Water", the first movement, is slow, and its timing is free and flexible. "Fire" is fast and has a set tempo, although different combinations of fragments generate bars of various lengths so that there is no set time signature.  Susan Haire's paintings usually have some elements dictated by chance, and these compositions aim to celebrate chance in the same way.  The recording for the gallery consists of several different performances of the piece.  It is dedicated to my friends Susan Haire and Nils Schweckendiek.  I cannot give one movement to each, because they are both unmistakably fiery, and not at all watery.
Christopher Willis
Click here to play an extract of the music
(1 min 26 secs, filesize 425KB)
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